When my mom was finally able to hold back her tears for a bit, for the first time in my life I heard her say these words, “Yes, I do struggle with the shame. Sharing private things is something that is so against how I grew up and what our culture says, but this story is too great to not share about the abundant grace God showed us!” I was overwhelmed with joy!
Bitia Buenrostro is the subject of our latest written story, The Author and Perfecter. She shared her story of finding out at the age of 14 she was not a citizen, but actually an undocumented alien, and how God used that to shape her life. Several months after her interview, we followed up with Bitia to ask some questions about her storytelling experience.
Story Team: Bitia, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions and share more about how telling your story has impacted your life. As you were first moving forward and sharing your story with the Story Team, did it bring fear or anxiety?
Bitia Buenrostro: Reliving the experience in my mind at first always brought me much anxiety. This particular time I was more confident, but I was in fear of what my mother would think or how she would react, because she still had a hard time remembering that God has completely redeemed our story.
What prompted you to approach Story Team with your story? Why did you feel able to trust them?
I just knew it had to be told. I had been living in fear for so long that I didn’t even share it openly with anybody at all until 2012 when I became a US citizen. With what is going on in the country regarding immigration, I just wanted people to know that not all immigration stories are the same and that the Lord can use immigrants to display his glory.
Was there anything you did to personally prepare for the interview? Was there anything the writer and photographer had you prepare?
I called my mom and dad to get some of the details right. I was 14 when the whole legal process began so I knew I was oblivious to some of the details. I certainly prayed a lot for God to give me peace as I shared my story and read over what I had written myself about my story. My sweet photographer Natalie asked me to have any memorabilia ready that I thought might be relevant to my story.
Your story is sensitive in nature in that it deals with illegal immigration and choices made by family members outside of your knowledge. At what point did you include your family in the process of sharing your story?
I must confess I made the decision of sharing the story on my own. My parents have shared our story with the church where we have attended all of our lives back in Mexico and my parents knew that I shared my story with my missional community right before becoming a US citizen in 2012. It wasn’t until after the interview that I told them why I needed the details I had asked them about earlier. My dad and brother were very supportive, but my mom was having a hard time fighting the shame that accompanies our story.
As you met with Story Team artists, what was something that God used to excite you about this opportunity?
God used the artists to remind me how my story can be a blessing to others. Hearing how excited they were to help me share my story was reassuring and confirmed that it had to be told! As Natalie took my pictures and memories flooded my mind I began to cry, and sweet Natalie paused to talk about what I was feeling at the moment. It was a great time of encouragement from a sister in Christ!
What was the most rewarding experience for you in the process of telling your story?
The most rewarding experience for me was being constantly reminded of the Lord’s grace in my story and how I no longer live in shame or hiding. It was amazing to see everything he has done and how he has led me to where I am now, as well as receiving so many encouraging comments by various artists that weren’t necessarily working on my story! But most of all, the greatest result of all of this was the final conversation I had with my parents.
The Sunday that Halim Suh preached on “Spirit-filled Parenting” [at The Austin Stone], God moved me to be bold about our story finally being published. I called my parents and asked to put me on speaker phone. I shared about the main quote that struck me from Halim’s sermon: “When you fail, it is a great opportunity to show your children what true repentance looks like.” When he said that, it made me realize that my parents have showed me that all my life, especially regarding our immigration story. As I told them about the sermon and thanked them for being models of true repentance I transitioned into our story being published and although it can be scary, I am confident the Lord will use this to bless others. I shared how it has already moved people from the Story Team itself!
As I spoke I could hear my mom crying in the background and my dad finally spoke up and said, “We are very joyful that the Lord is doing all of these things in your life, and as you say we truly believe the Lord has been gracious and good to us throughout all of this process despite our failure.” When my mom was finally able to hold back her tears for a bit, for the first time in my life I heard her say these words, “Yes, I do struggle with the shame. Sharing private things is something that is so against how I grew up and what our culture says, but this story is too great to not share about the abundant grace God showed us!” I was overwhelmed with joy! Finally, only a week or so before our story will be published am I seeing fruit in my mother’s life! I praise the Lord because I know he is doing a work in her and in all of us, that we are free from condemnation because we are in Christ Jesus and sharing our story will only bring more glory to him!
What was a surprise (good or bad) to you about being a part of the story process?
I was unaware that the writer wanted to get to know me first before diving in. It was great to just share a meal and spend time with each other before sharing my story.
What was your initial reaction when you first read your story? Was it a proud moment or a moment of panic?
I just read the title and began feeling overwhelmed (in a good way). As I read, tears rolled down my cheeks because I had a physical representation that I could go over and see what the Lord has done in my entire life and how He has brought me to this moment! His love and mercy and grace I felt at that moment was overwhelming!